DISCOVER LIGURIA CHARM
EMOTIONS AND SUGGESTIVE ATMOSPHERES
Liguria is among the most fascinating regions of Italy. It is a narrow strip of land, bow-shaped, sheltered by a ring of mountains that give it a mild climate in every season. Its territory is characterized by an incredible variety of habitats; by artistic and architectural witnesses that are the result of its millenary history. This region ever since divided between sea, from which its old maritime civilization was born, and the peasant and piedmont hinterland, is able to offer emotions and suggestive atmospheres in every season of the year.
Its typical old villages, often encompassed by terracing with hundred-year-old olive trees, contain architectural treasures.
It is not rare to sight behind their ruins ancient castles sometimes very well conserved. Since the Roman age the Mediterranean, place of trades, cultural exchanges, migrations crossroads, became the door towards progress and civilization. The Ligurian coast watched its territory embellishing with churches, gentleman’s residences, squares, monuments, fortresses, that make it still today one the regions with the highest number of historical findings in the world. From a landscape point of view, Liguria presents a series of micro-habitats and micro-climates that make it a desired touristic destination, able to satisfy various exigencies in the area of spare time, leisure and sport. West Riviera presents a more regular trend with gulfs, large and deep coves that have allowed the growth of sandy and gravelly beaches.
East Riviera offers sometimes inaccessible coast ranges with sheer cliffs, cut off by little coves and beaches of modest dimension. Despite the presence quite continuous of mountains, coastal and submontane planes do not miss. Albenga plane is famous for some excellent products such as its artichokes. During the autumn Bardineto and Calizzano planes are rushed by mushrooms seekers, attracted by the precious fruit typical of chestnut and beech woods. On the basis of fruit and vegetable products of excellent quality and meat coming from small farming, a gastronomic offer was born in these places and it is appreciable in every season of the year.
The islands of Savona province belong to this unique and very delicate environmental variety. At a short distance from the coast, it is possible to dive and admire the very rare coral of the submarine protected area of Bergeggi Isle or the Roman findings around Gallinara Isle. Near La Spezia in Cinque Terre Park area, declared Unesco World Heritage, people can find the isles of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, destinations of maritime excursions by boats and diving activities as well. Some mountains, such as Mount Saccarello with its 2200 metres, soar on the opposite extreme of this region, but always near the coast in the area of Imperia. It presents an alpine flora and offers an incredible prospective on the very closed Mediterranean sea. From here Marguarais Massif expands. Into its underground people can admire one of the most known karsic formations of Italy.
Liguria is a region with a wide floristic richness. It presents some unique species in the world such as the campanula Isophylla, exclusive of Finale area; the campanula sabatia, present just in the provinces of Savona and Imperia; and the santolina ligustic, typical of La Spezia province. Walking on the various paths upon the hills above the coastline, you can appreciate the typical vegetation of this region, the macchia, formed by a series of vegetal and often aromatic species, such as rosemary, thyme, mint, bay. About fauna, woods of Liguria are inhabited above all by small animals, such as the badger, the hare, the beech marten, the squirrel;
all shy animals and therefore hardly to observe. Fallow deers and roes have been brought back for some decades.
Their rapid growth has brought the return of the wolf, from the closed Mercantour park in France. This wonderful animal is more and more populating the valleys of Ligurian hinterland. It is a discrete and not dangerous presence for the man; but its observation is really rare, and it is an unforgettable experience reserved to very few people. Birdwatching is a very practised activity as result of the augmentation of different hawks species, and the passing of some exemplars such as the short-toe eagle, above a restricted area of Apennines. Historical witnesses of all ages are numerous and very interesting beginning from the prehistorical findings in the area of Ventimiglia, Finale and Luni, to those of the Roman age with the naissance of towns such as Luna (Luni) , Genua (Genova), Vada Sabatia (Vado), Albingaunum (Albenga) and Albintimilium (Ventimilia) about in 180 b. C.
These ancient towns were connected by an efficient road net whose rests, pavements and bridges, are still visible in the hinterland of Finale Ligure in Val Ponci. Witnesses of the paleo-Christian age are a lot. Some of them are very well conserved like the Baptistery of Albenga (5th century). Every age has left over these territories an important architectural and artistic wealth. Castles’ ruins of the medieval period are rediscovered and preserved through consolidating and partial restoring works. The most important architectural heritage is that one referred to the sacral art. Paleo-Christian parishes, Baroque and Romanic churches and cathedrals, extraordinarily well-conserved, are often keepers of cultural and political influences that have done the history of this region.
People can admire influences of Lombard culture in the East and Lombard-Provençal in the West as well as influences of cultures and people still more distant such as the Byzantine one. During the 16th century the most important cities changed their aspect of medieval towns with the building of wealthy palaces and aristocratic residences. Genoa already political and administrative centre became Republic. Closed to the medieval centre, wonderful palaces and villas inhabited by the most important families of the age, were built. Genova became one of the main destinations for intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, artists that often, attracted by its beauty and mild climate, spent a long time in the Ligurian city. Ligurian artistic works were highly influenced by these European cultural contacts, as in the works of Bernardo Strozzi. Finally with the spreading of tourism from northern and central Europe, between the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, people built villas and big hotels in liberty style that still today characterize the urban landscape of the most beautiful coast places.
Finale Ligure area spreads out from Caprazzoppa spit on the West and Noli cape on the East. Thanks to the various natural caves and the reliefs in the shelter of the sea this area has been inhabited by the man since the prehistorical age. Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon and later Sapiens man lived along this coast and left very important signs of their passage. A lot of finds are hold in the Civic Museum of Finale Ligure, recently re-opened after a meaningful restoration. During the Roman period this area was under Vada Sabatia and it was organized in small rural communities such as Perti, Calvisio and Varigotti. The most important centre was situated at the mouth of Pora where a Paleo-Christian Church was built towards 5th- 6th century and still worth visiting by Capuchin Friars convent.
In 643 Finalmarina and Varigotti were destroyed by Rotari and during 9th and 10th century rushed by Saracens.
To prevent plunders from the sea city walls were built around Finalborgo and Gavone Castle was put up upon the hill. In 1300 Finalborgo became the capital of marquisate of Finale but successively it capitulated to Genoa Republic that built a fortress near the sea “Castelfranco” and interred the harbour of Varigotti to secure oneself a best control on the territory. Later Carretto marquisate suffered the Spanish occupation and from 1598 to 1700 it was annexed to Spain. Today Finale Ligure is divided in four neighbourhoods Finalmarina, Finalpia, Finalborgo and Varigotti.
What to do in Finale Ligure
Finalese area represents one of the most interesting places of Liguria for quality and quantity of its monuments.
In addition to defence works such as Finalborgo city walls, Gavone Castle, San Giovanni and Castelfranco Fortresses, the ruins of a Byzantine fortress in Varigotti, the sighting towers of Caprazzoppa, San Donato and Crena spits people can admire different sacred architectures such as the Church of San Biagio (1634), and the Convent of Santa Caterina (15th century) in Finalborgo, the Paleo-Christian Parish (5th century) in Finalmarina, the Abbey of Santa Maria (15th century) in Finalpia and the medieval Church of San Lorenzo in Varigotti. The hinterland is rich of many interesting findings too. At the back of Finalpia you can find Calvisio with the Church of San Cipriano Church - a Paleo-Christian Parish- , carrying on Sciusa valley you will find “Val Ponci” so called for the five Roman Bridges that traced the route of Julia Augusta (13 b. C. ) In Aquila valley people can find the small village of Orco Feglino where the rests of a castle and the Church of San Lorenzino are still visible(1195)
The small town of Noli is situated between Vescovado spit and Noli Cape at the mouth of torrent Luminella. In 5th and 6th century became seat of a small community with a baptistery and a parish church in the area of the current Saint Paragorio.
Things to see in Noli
Saint Paragorio Cathedral is one of the best examples of Romanic art in Liguria. The city towers in red bricks conserve almost entirely their ancient face. Of the old fortified structures some gates, a part of the city walls, Mount Ursino Castle (12th century)remain still intact. The historical centre buildings date back to the medieval period. Under the portico of one of the main squares people can observe the commemorative plaque of Dante Alighieri – the supreme poet – that spent part of his exile in Noli.
Situated on the West Riviera is one of the four provinces of region Liguria. The primitive centre of Savona was born on the rocky spit of Priamar about in 200 b. C. During the Roman period the Ligurian Sabati were defeated by Rome and replaced by Vada Sabatia (Vado Ligure). But later during the Byzanthine period Savona was back in vogue and became a fortified centre. Successively it was invaded by Rotari in 641 and by Saracens around 10th century. Around 950 Savona became capital of Aleramic march-land and important outlet on the sea. Its participation to the first crusade gave it notoriety and promoted its commercial development. In 1191 acquired a complete autonomy becoming town and extending its own territory. During 15th century the city passed through a flourishing period when Sisto IV and Giulio II of Family Della Rovere ascended the papal throne. But the destiny of Savona was signed by the definitive defeat suffered by Genoa Republic in 1542 when its harbour was destroyed and interred and at the place of the small citadel on Priamar spit a big fortress was erected to control and dominate the place. For a social and economic restart Savona had to wait the Napoleonic period. The urban development in 19th century saw a considerable growth of the residential area on the flat land at the back of the primitive centre. In 1815 it was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardegna.
Things to see in Savona
The small hill of Priamar represents the primitive centre of the city. In addition to the Roman and the pre-Roman rests the first Byzantine fortification and the medieval citadel take form. The Genoese Fortress was erected from 1542 and completed in 1680. Inside it is possible to visit the Church of San Domenico il Vecchio and the Archeologic Museum. Torre del Brandale (12th century)rises nearby; it is about 50 metres high with a basement perforated by gothic arcades. Inside it part of the civic bell “la campanassa” is still conserved. Walking on via Pia you will find the residence of della Rovere (1495), in Piazza del Duomo people can visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta whose Sistine chapel was requested by Pope Sixtus the Fourth (1481-1483) to honour his parents. The adjacent bishop’s palace was an ancient Franciscan Convent in which is conserved the apartment of Pope Pio the Seventh. Always in via Pia people can find Gavotti Palace -the old municipal seat- and Lamba-Doria Palace the Chamber of commerce seat – a beautiful example of cinquecento residence. Nearby the civic pinacotheca contains a sector dedicated to the Savona ceramics dating from 17th- 20th century
Albenga is situated at the mouth of river Centa in the largest plane of Liguria. In ancient times it was inhabited by the Ingauni , later it became a Roman centre and afterwards a bishop seat. It was destroyed several times by Longobardians and Saracens. After the year one thousand it became town and Maritime Republic taking part to the crusades. Like other maritime republics it fought against the powerful Genoa and in 1251 was impelled to capitulate. In 1625 it passed under Amedeo I of Savoy, successively under Napoleon and afterwards under the Kingdom of Sardinia like the rest of Liguria.
Things to see in Albenga
Very interesting the Roman rests of a theatre, an amphitheatre, an aqueduct, some civic and private buildings, a length of the old route Julia Augusta halfway up the hill towards Alassio with some funerary monuments. All the medieval centre is rich with religious and civil monuments. The most interesting religious one is the Baptistery of 5th century with octagonal plan – a rare example of paleo-Christian architecture. Inside it people can admire a wonderful byzantine mosaic. The cathedral of San Michele -rebuilt over a paleo-Christian one- conserves structures of different ages. In the historical centre people can still see different old towers and civil buildings. Many of them are museums like the Civic Museum Ingauno, that contains important materials of Roman age coming from the necropolis, the Roman Maritime Museum where you can see the rests of the roman shipwreck foundered in 80 b. C. a mile from the coast and the Diocesan Museum where it is possible to observe works and materials coming from the Cathedral and the paleo-Christian period digs.